Langdon, Samuel. Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness. A Sermon Preached before the Honorable Congress of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New England. Watertown. Benjamin Edes, 1775. 29pp.
An important sermon preached by ardent patriot, Dr. Samuel Langdon, Congregational Minister and President of Harvard College. This critical text was delivered just days after the opening shots of the Revolution before the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts on May 31, 1775, being perhaps the first sermon to have been preached before the Provincial Congress after war had begun.
The Congress had just relocated from Concord to Watertown, just outside Boston, where the present was published by pro-Revolutionary printer, Benjamin Edes.
The sermon is a blistering invective against British tyranny and taxation. He mentions Lexington and Concord – noting that the British fired first – and the occupation of Boston by the British. He likewise addresses the dissolution of the previous form of civil government under the Massachusetts colonial charter and the British Parliament, and praises the means by which the American people have preserved order in the midst of chaos:
"At least five or six of our inhabitants were murderously kill'd by the Regulars at Lexington, before any man attempted to return the fire, and when they were actually complying with the command to disperse; and two more of our brethren were likewise kill'd at Concord- Bridge by a fire from the King's soldiers, before the engagement began on our side."
". . . they have so universally adopted the method of managing the important matters necessary to preserve among them a free government, by corresponding committees and congresses, consisting of the wisest and most disinterested patriots of America, chosen by the unbiased suffrages of the people assembled for that purpose . . So general agreement, thro’ so many provinces of so large a country, in one mode of self preservation, is unexampled in any history: and the effect has exceeded our most sanguine expectations."
He further, as Ezra Stiles' famous sermon in 1783 would at the conclusion of the War, compares America as the proper fulfillment of Israel of the Old Testament.
He closes with an exhultation to God for His grace in giving them victory over their oppressors and for establishing liberty in this new land:
"Let us praise our God for the advantages already given us over the enemies of liberty; particularly, that they have been so dispirited by repeated experience of the efficiency of our arms; and that in the late action at Chelsea", in which the arms captured would be used in the following engagement at Bunker Hill.
Original wraps, worn at extremities, minor discoloration at inner margin as shown. Dampstain on half title. Side stitched and generally worn.
The present is also an important piece of early American Baptist history, having been inscribed by an unknown person"To the Rev Haziciah [i.e. Hezekiah] Smith." This would have been Hezekiah Smith [1737-1805], founder of the first Baptist church in Haverhill, MA, the first appointed Chaplain to the American Revolutionary Army and directly serving under then General, George Washington. Aside from his pivotal role in the Revolution, he pioneered 13 Baptist congregations across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.
His life is chronoicled in Chaplain Smith and the Baptists; Or, the Life, Journals, Letters, and Addresses of the Rev. Hezekiah Smith of Haverhill, MA.
William Reese sold a similar example, but without the fascinating Baptist provenance, for $3,000.00